This past weekend was awesome. My sister and my cousins came down from California to hang out with me. However, that was only part of the reason. Their coming over was part of an elaborate scheme to throw a surprise going-away-party for me. I was originally going to leave on August 11th, but that date was pushed back to August 26th. So they were a little early, but that actually made the event all the more surprising. It was actually funny in a way.
On Friday, I was at Sadhana's house, and I was telling her how excited I was that my family was coming over. However, truth be told, it did seem a little sudden, and I wasn't sure why exactly they were coming over right now. I mean, it is a bit of a trip. Sadhana seemed irritated that I would ask such a question. "Maybe they just want to spend time with you!", she said. I didn't know why she was so irritated, but it makes sense now. She didn't want me trying to figure things out and ruin the surprise for myself - she had been planning all this for quite a while now, collaborating with the rest of my friends and with my sister and my cousins. The other thing was when I talked to Rachna on Friday. I told her that I would be seeing her this weekend. That apparently caused her to get really flustered because she thought that I knew about the surprise party. But I just said it because my family was over and I wanted all of us to hang out. She started freaking out because she thought I anticipated the surprise party. Then there was my sister's odd behaviour. Whenever she was talking to Sadhana on the phone, she'd walk away from me so that I couldn't hear the conversation. It struck me as odd, but I didn't think much of it. It gets funnier though. We all planned to have dinner on Saturday, and I expected Sadhana, Rachna, and Suraj to be there. We all get to the restaurant and I walk in. I see Nasser, Shareen, Anthony, and his girlfriend, in addition to Rachna, Suraj, Sadhana, and Vibha. They all yell "Surprise!". So I said, "What are you yelling 'Surprise!' for?" I also didn't look the least bit surprised. Then as I'm sitting down, they say "This is your going away party!". But I respond, "I'm not going away yet". Eventually it dawns on me that this is a surprise, and when that happened, I was really surprised!
The party was a whole lot of fun. My sister got me a lovely going away present. Over the last week, she had been hounding me for some pictures - of my family and my friends. I eventually sent them to her. She used them to make a Calendar (2006). I was really touched - I don't think I could have got a better going away present. I know I'll be using it to mark the days until I come back home, and while I'm doing it, I get to look at pictures of my family and my friends. Rachna told me that it almost made her cry. And it's true - it was a very thoughtful and loving gift. Thank you Keerthikutty! Oh yes, then on Friday before I left work, Shareen started sending these odd emails out. Things like "Chocolate, Strawberry, Banana or Blueberry?" and "Blue, Orange, Green or Purple?". I had no idea what that was about, but I responded anyway. I said "Chocolate" for the first and "Blue and Orange" for the second question. It all fell into place when I got my cake - it was a chocolate cake with Orange and Blue icing.
I was touched that everyone had put so much and effort into planning this. Rachna and Sadhana had been planning all of this, and Sadhana had been in touch with my sister and my cousins for the past few weeks. They were trying to figure out their schedules, and how to get here. Shareen and Nasser had decided on using their house for the party, but their AC broke, and so that didn't go through. But it's the thought that counts!
On Sunday we went and saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which I thought was absolutely awesome. Johnny Depp made an awesome Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder did too) and he fully captured the eccentricity and weirdness of the character. Tim Burton's direction is awesome as usual, and lends his "Burtonesque" quality to the whole movie.
Ok, I know that some of what I'm saying aren't really spoilers because anyone who has read the book should know about them.
There were some really touching scenes in the movie. I remember when I first read the book, and I came across the scene where Charlie gets the Wonka Bar for his birthday. I remember the anticipation I felt as Charlie slowly opened the wrapping... and the disappointment when he found out that he didn't win the Golden Ticket. The movie captured that really well... I felt the same way I did when I first read the book so many years ago. Another scene that I thought was really heart-breaking, was when they show the backstory for Willy Wonka. Young Willy Wonka comes back home from trick-or-treating, and his dentist father (Wilbur Wonka, played by Christopher Lee) is going through the candy. He tells his son how bad the candy is for the teeth, and despite Willy's repeated pleas to have just one, tosses the whole basket into the fireplace. Young Willa Wonka's expression (orthodontic headgear and all) is absolutely heart-wrenching.
I am usually nit-picky about movies that have been adapted from books, but I thought this was a pretty good adaptation. The backstory about Willy Wonka didn't bother me too much either. All in all, a good movie.
END SPOILER ALERT
After the movie, we went back home and chilled for a bit. After Michael got back home, all of us went grocery shopping and bought the ingredients to make some Mexican Food. We also bought fresh pineapples to make some piñacoladas. Josh came over as well, and we all started working together on making dinner. The dinner we made was delicious! We made Tacos and Taquitos which we ate with salsa, guacamole, and mexican rice. Oh yeah, and piñacoladas with fresh pineapples! After dinner, we sat around and talked for a while. I brought down both of Michael's guitars, and he also brought down my keyboard. We jammed for a bit with Dipu Cheta and Michael on the guitar, Prem on the percussion set on my keyboard, and with me singing. Good fun!
The next morning my cousins and my sister headed out. Dipu Cheta flew back to San Francisco, and Keerthi and Prem began their long drive back to Los Angeles. I had a whole lot of fun this last weekend. It's the best I've had in a while!